Review: Bleach: Soul Resurrección
Bleach: Soul Resurrección is an oddly named action game adapted from the insanely popular Bleach anime series. It is the first ever Bleach game to be released on an HD console. So is does the title suffer the same fate as so many anime based games and appeal only to diehard fans? Or does it perhaps offer something that gamers altogether unfamiliar with Bleach could enjoy? Read on to find out.
Because I feel absolutely obligated to say this, I’ll get it out of the way early. I was a Bleach fan more than two years ago, and it has been even longer than that since I last kept up with the series. I know barely enough about it to identify roughly half of the playable characters in the game, and I’m rounding up. Suffice it to say, you could learn everything I know about Bleach in three minutes of reading on Wikipedia. Therefore, this was viewed from largely unbiased eyes, which is all the better. I’ll try not to step on any fanboy toes but I don’t think that’s important. It goes without saying that any serious, obsessive fan of the show probably already owns this game and therefore has little use for this review.
The story in Soul Resurrección is close to impossible to follow, and I pride myself on identifying and keeping up with plots in the games I play. Obviously it’s based on the anime and to my understanding it covers events that happened in the show about two story arcs ago. This may not be accurate but it is confusing. Prepare to have no idea what’s going on if you aren’t very familiar with the show. From what I was able to gather, the main villain is a man named Aizen. His goal is to somehow move him and his big gang of baddies from the spirit world into the real world so that he can destroy the spirit world. Everyone in the cast who isn’t one of those baddies is trying to stop Aizen’s plan. That’s it.
In the context of the game-play, more depth than this isn’t exactly a required, but I have no good news for fans of a game narratives. The story mode itself is extremely short and uninformative. You play through fourteen missions which take barely fifteen minutes apiece to complete. Thus, you will complete the story mode in less than four hours and probably a lot less than that if you are good. Keep in mind that this game is fully priced; it’ll run you the whole $60. The story in the game is a barely comprehensible mess and it receives no merit from me, though I’m sure this is much less of a problem if you’re already familiar with the story of the anime.
The graphics in the game are, I must admit, nice. The cell shaded style is polished and detailed and the vibrant colors and designs look exactly like an anime. This is the best utilization of this art style that I’ve ever seen and it puts every Dragon Ball Z game – and many of the Naruto games – to shame. The enemy designs are obscure and odd, but nothing new if you’ve seen the show. All the characters, enemies and locations were captured wonderfully thanks to the well done graphics. The environments are much less detailed though. They are gigantic and many of them are strikingly similar and uninspired throughout. Over the course of the game, you won’t get locked in battle in a variety of different locations. While it doesn’t immediately seem like a huge problem, as soon as you play for more than a few hours you become jaded by the tiny amount of different locales.
The music in Soul Resurrección is, to put it simply, quite bad. Cacophonous metal and rock tracks spurt out in boring succession the entire time. There is no reprieve from the banal noise in the game’s soundtrack. This music could be copied and pasted to or from any Dragon Ball Z game and no one would ever notice. It’s uninspired, it’s lame and it doesn’t add anything it all. I found that the worst thing about it was that it is noticeable and plain. At least if I hadn’t noticed the music, I wouldn’t have all these complaints. I obviously didn’t expect to be swept off my feet by epic, orchestral masterpieces Final Fantasy style, but this was just a whole lot less than what I was expecting. The sounds and voicing in the game seem nearly identical to the sounds and voicing in the Bleach anime. All the voices fit like a glove, only because you already know what the characters are supposed to sound like. If you’ve never seen the show and don’t know their voices, then none of the voicing is bad and it is right in line with what you’d expect to hear in an anime based game.
Though it’s pretty to look at, Bleach: Soul Resurrección has horrendous music and a story that’s impossible to follow because of the metric ton of events that took place in the canon before the game. Let’s turn now to the game-play, which will decidedly make or break this title. The game-play consists of two things and only two things: destroying hallows/arancars/whatevers and leveling up the characters.
Combat is fluid and fast, though not very deep. Each of the 21 playable characters has their own relatively unique style of play. The four face buttons make up the jump button, the standard attack button, the projectile button and the special button. The speedy standard attack can be mashed quickly to pull off simple, slightly satisfying combos. Throwing projectiles allows you to hit flying or distanced enemies but works differently in the air. Throwing projectiles slowly depletes your spiritual pressure, which is measured by a blue array of bars beneath your characters portrait and health. The special attack button does a powerful, flashy attack that draws heavily on the spiritual pressure bar, usually completely draining it. This bar refills quickly, allowing you to string powerful combos together.
Jumping allows you to hit enemies above you and continue combos into the air. A small red gauge to the left of the screen fills slowly as you haul arse and when it is full you can press a shoulder button to unleash the spiritual energy. The gauge will then slowly deplete, but your character will have enhanced speed and attack power while it is active. Killing enemies slows the gauge and allows you to remain in an empowered state for longer. Pressing the shoulder button again while this state is active will allow you to perform your characters strongest attack; their Bankai. You can also do a very handy infinite dash with another shoulder button, allowing you to control even the biggest areas. This combat system is not incredibly deep, but it is fluid and solid. Each of the characters feels different (though the roster isn’t gigantic) which gives off a very well needed sense of quality or depth.
Progression through the game is almost exclusively moving from point A to point B whilst obliterating everything that moves. This blank sense of violence and fun is both a merit and demerit for the title. On one hand, the senseless battling matches up perfectly with the show but on the other hand, it severely lacks the depth and value that a single player title needs to have nowadays. The lack of any sort of multi-player shocked me. The game seems made for some split screen madness, especially the numerous missions where players must tackle more than one boss simultaneously, alone.
The other component of the game-play is leveling up the characters. In the tradition of many DBZ video games, characters must gain experience points from battles and become stronger. You won’t need to level up much to complete the barely existent story mode, but you’ll definitely have to buff your characters up to make a dent in the game’s mission mode, which we’ll talk about later. As you defeat enemies and gain experience points, you gain access to a huge grid on which you can power your character up. The whole system is reminiscent of the grids seen in RPGs like Final Fantasy and is practically identical to the system in Fist of the North Star. Each character has various upgrades; from increased health and attack power to faster spiritual pressure regeneration and bonus experience points.
Each upgrade you purchase unlocks another path on the grid, forcing you to really gain a lot of points to get to the good stuff. Something I found a bit odd is that each character’s grid is interconnected with other characters. You won’t be able to fully power up one character without making it to a certain level with another character. For example, I had bought all of the character Soi-Fon’s upgrades I had access to, and I couldn’t access more until I reached a certain level with Yarouchi, another playable character. This requires you to play with all of the characters if you have any plans of fully maxing out your characters, which would be a time consuming chore.
Those two game-play components make up the entirety of Bleach’s game-play and it comes off seeming shallow at the end of the day, though it doesn’t necessarily fail at what it set out to do. In addition to the story mode, there is a mission mode, a gallery mode and a soul attack (score attack) mode. The mission mode is a huge collection of missions or tasks that you can complete to gain trophies for the gallery mode, additional characters and other things. The missions start out simple and easy and are pretty much always simple, though the difficulty quickly shoots up as they stack on bosses and enemies. None of the missions are particularly interesting, but they’re worth playing if you’re gonna drop three twenties on the game. I must confess that anyone who likes the title has been thrown a tremendous bone. While it certainly shouldn’t take a full one hundred hours to complete (as has been stated in some of the promotion for the game), it will take a while for you to get your characters strong enough to complete the mission mode.
The boring gallery mode is an afterthought and it contains various figures of characters from the game for your viewing pleasure (or displeasure). I was surprised that there wasn’t any art but, oh well. There are apparently episodes of the Bleach anime somewhere on the disc, but I guess I didn’t play enough to unlock them. The soul attack mode is the only one of the game’s features that utilizes the PlayStation Network. It’s basically just a handful of missions from the mission mode, only your scores are uploaded to an online leader board, so that you can see who the best soul reaper is. They also have themes like speed, endurance and the like. In terms of replay value, if you enjoy the game, the mission mode should give you your money’s worth, though in general this game just doesn’t bring a whole lot to the table. The leader board is hardly appealing unless you have friends who you want to compete with in the game, and the chances of that are extremely slim.
In summary, Bleach: Soul Resurrección is not a horrible, terrible, awful, abomination of a game like so many other anime based games and I say this as someone who began playing it with great doubts. Its enjoyable combat and expanse of unlockables and content, particularly the mission mode, make it an easy rental to recommend and a definite must buy for fans of the anime series. Unfortunately, a lack of multi-player, story/plot relevance, general depth of game-play and anything particularly interesting or entertaining are all huge issues that are not easy to ignore, not to mention the garbage soundtrack. At a serious $60 price point, Bleach: Soul Resurrección just barely passes.
- Title: Bleach: Soul Resurrección
- Platform Reviewed: PS3
- Publisher: NIS America
- Developer: SCEI
- Release Date: August 2, 2011
- MSRP: $59.99
- Review Copy Info: A review copy of this title was provided to DualShockers, Inc. by the publisher for the purpose of this review.